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November 26, 2015 / 14 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Jacob’

June Bride, 1951

Friday, June 15th, 2012

From “Jews in Minnesota,” by Hyman Berman‏ and Linda Mack Schlof:

“The wedding of Clarice Sherman and Mel Zuckman at Tifereth B’nai Jacob in North Minneapolis, 1951.

“At a Jewish wedding, the bride and groom stand under a chupah or wedding canopy symbolizing their future home.

“As long as Jews remained in the compact geographical areas where they were a dominant majority, they continued to attend Orthodox synagogues while moving away from the strict requirements as individuals. American secular life increasingly challenged the rigid traditionalism of Orthodox Judaism.”

Beit El Caravillas Herald Ulpana Destruction, Massive Expansion

Monday, June 11th, 2012

In line with the government’s projected plan to destroy 5 apartment buildings in the Ulpana Hill neighborhood of the biblical town of Beit El, six caravilla mobile homes were delivered on Monday to house evicted families.

The southern Samaria town, immortalized in the Bible as the site on which Jacob, fleeing from the wrath of his brother Esau, had a dream of angels ascending and descending a ladder, is bracing for the court-ordered destruction, after last-minute efforts to save the buildings in the Knesset failed.

A total of 33 caravillas are expected to be delivered to house expelled families in a new neighborhood in Beit El, carved out of an army base adjacent to the town.

The Defense Ministry issued a statement saying the ministry is “operating around the clock” as directed by the prime minister and minister of defense, and would have the new neighborhood completed “as soon as possible [to] allow residents of the Ulpana Hill to leave their homes in the most respectable and convenient way”.  A specific date has not been publicized, but the court gave the government until July 1 to destroy the homes.

It is unclear to what degree residents of Ulpana Hill and the surrounding community of Beit El will cooperate with – or fight – the impending destruction.  However, Director of Development for Beit El Institutions – the original purchasers of the disputed land upon which the condemned apartment buildings sit – Baruch Gordon, says he is optimistic that not only will the buildings not be torn down, but that the fight for Ulpana Hill will result in a drastic expansion of the town.

“Something sweet is coming out of something bitter,” Gordon said, in an interview with The Jewish Press.

“Instead of taking on the court head on, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  is bowing to the dictates of the court, but at the same time is removing the harsh bite they intended to have.   He is saying ‘If the state prosecution wants to dictate to us, we will build ten houses for every one you are taking down’.”

On June 7, the prime minister’s office announced that permission for 300 new residences had been approved, as well as 551 in other communities in the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria.  The announcement evoked both elation and skepticism amongst supporters of Jewish development in the area, who celebrated the significant potential for growth, yet expressed concern that the announcement would never come to fruition, and was rather a cynical attempt to diffuse tension over the destruction of the Ulpana Hill homes.

“Even if [Prime Minister Netanyahu] can only do half [of the 300 homes in Beit El], that is a tremendous boost to our community,” Gordon said.  “So Beit El will grow by 10% as a result of this court case, even if he only keeps half of his word.”

Gordon noted that despite the best efforts of Yesh Din – the original complainants in the case charging that the Ulpana buildings had been built on Arab land – their lawsuit resulted in the advancement of Jewish life in Judea and Samaria.

“The executive director of Yesh Din apologized in a statement to the press for the results of his actions, that it is causing Beit El to grow,” Gordon said.

“The civil administration has already approved taking part of the army base and officially making it part of the town of Beit El and there it will place the 30 temporary homes,” Gordon said.  “I sat with mayor Moshe Rosenbaum to discuss the plans to expand Beit El, and he showed me on the map where the homes are being planned.  Approximately 150 homes will be built without any problem, and another 150 which Netanyahu promised will be a little bit of a fight against the legal advisors of the PM who are hesitating on giving their approval.”

“All in all, it seems that Netanyahu’s policy is to bow down to the court and then fire back by expanding the towns of Judea and Samaria for every suit which is filed by the European -funded NGOs in Israel like Peace Now and Yesh Din.”

Artifact Found in Time for Shavuot Proves Bethlehem Existed During First Temple

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

In a press release issued on Wednesday, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Ir David Foundation announced that a clay seal was discovered bearing the name of the city of Bethlehem, evidence that the city existed during the period of the First Temple in Jerusalem.  The find fortuitously coincides with the upcoming holiday of Shavuot, during which time Jews from around the world focus on the story of the biblical figure Ruth, set in the city of Bethlehem.

The 1.5cm seal – called a bulla – was discovered during sifting of soil removed from the archeological excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is carrying out in the City of David, just outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.  The sifting is underwritten by the Ir David Foundation, which treated The Jewish Press to a private tour.

The clay bulla was meant to seal a document or object, used as a way of showing that the private item had not been tampered with.

The new bulla bears the words:   בשבעת   Bishv’at    בת לים    Bat Lechem [למל[ך   [Lemel]ekh

Eli Shukron, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said “it seems that in the seventh year of the reign of a king (either Hezekiah, Manasseh or Josiah), a shipment was dispatched from Bethlehem to the king in Jerusalem.”

“The bulla we found belongs to the group of “fiscal” bullae – administrative bullae used to seal tax shipments remitted to the taxation system of the Kingdom of Judah in the late eighth and seventh centuries BCE,” Shukron said.  “The tax could have been paid in the form of silver or agricultural produce such as wine or wheat”.

According to Shukron, this is the first time the name Bethlehem has appeared in an inscription from the First Temple period, proving that Bethlehem was a city in the Kingdom of Judah, and possibly in earlier periods.”

The first mention of Bethlehem in the Bible occurs in regard to the matriarch Rachel, wife of Jacob, sister of Leah, and mother of Joseph, who died while giving birth to Benjamin “in Ephrat, which is Bethlehem, and was buried there (Genesis 35:19; 48:7).

In later generations, when the region was settled by the descendants of Jacob and Leah’s son Judah, a man named Boaz made Ruth, a Moabite convert and daughter-in-law of Naomi, his wife (Book of Ruth).  The couple’s great-grandson, David, became the most celebrated king in Jewish history, and made his capital in Jerusalem, on the site of the modern day “Ir David” – City of David.

Hugo Stiglitz VS the Canaanites

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

The first time I “read” the Torah, I actually listened to an audio recording of it on my iPod.  Much of it washed over me due to the arcane translation, and me not reading along, but one story stood out for me loud and clear.

It was the story of “The Rape of Dinah” (Genesis 34).  Here’s the short version: Dinah, daughter of the Patriarch Jacob, was raped by the son of a foreign king.  The son fell in love with his rape victim and wanted to marry her.  And so he asked for Dinah’s hand from her father Jacob.  Jacob’s sons – Simeon and Levi – concocted a ruse.  They said yes, you can take our sister Dinah – under one condition: all of the men in your city must get circumcised.  The king agreed, and all of his men were circumcised.  When they were all weakened with pain, Simeon and Levi came into their city, killed them all, and took Dinah back home.  The end.

Now, even though Simeon and Levi were following the principle to do whatever it takes to save innocent life (their sister Dinah), virtually all commentators – and even Jacob on his deathbed – condemned what Simeon and Levi did as wrong.

I see it differently.  In my mind, what Simeon and Levi did was great.  Totally badass.  Like…Hugo Stiglitz badass, from Inglourious Basterds.  I love this story, because it shows exactly how to deal with bad people.

For one thing, it worked.  It solved the problem.  If they had refused to give Dinah away to her rapist, the rapist would have taken her anyway, a fight would have ensued, and the King’s army would have likely killed all of Jacob’s family, thus wiping God’s chosen people from the Earth and from history.

If they gave Dinah away to her rapist, they would have lost their sister (a precious, innocent life) and they would have shown weakness to the bad people.  My considerable experience with bad people is: showing weakness to them never, ever works.  Not ever.  Never.  As evidenced by the entire arc of human, and Jewish, history.  Had they let Dinah’s rapist take her away, more rapists would have surely come for more of Jacob’s daughters, and it would have escalated from there – giving the Jews yet another group of tormenters to run from.

But that didn’t happen.  Because Simeon and Levi solved the problem.  They killed the bad people.  And, because they killed the bad people, the Israelites never again had to look over their shoulders in fear (of this particular band of tormenters).  Can you point to any other time in the Torah, or in Jewish history, when a threat to Jews and Judaism was solved?  Finished?  Ended for good?

Am I being too Stiglitz?

Golden Haggadah: A Unique Methodology

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Golden Haggadah: A Unique Methodology
The Medieval Haggadah: Art, Narrative & Religious Imagination
By Marc Michael Epstein,Yale University Press, New Haven and London 2011

The Golden Haggadah was created in Catalonia, Spain sometime around 1320. So named because all the illustrations are placed against a patterned gold-leaf background, it is a ritual object of incredible luxury and expense. In light of Marc Michael Epstein’s analysis found in his recent book The Medieval Haggadah, this tiny masterpiece of Jewish art easily ranks among other towering works of complex narration including Giotto’s Scrovegni Chapel in Padua and Michelangelo’s Sistine ceiling in Rome.

The text of the Haggadah is prefaced by 8 pages of double-sided illuminations, each side containing 4 narrative scenes. Since the 56 illuminations frequently depict more than one aspect of a biblical narrative, the overall scope of the illuminations is vast. The first 27 scenes are from Genesis starting with Adam naming the animals, the next 26 portray the Exodus itself and the final 3 scenes depict medieval domestic Passover scenes.

Golden Haggadah, fol. 4v, (ca.1320-1330) illuminated manuscript, London, British Library. Courtesy “The Medieval Haggadah” by Marc Michael Epstein. Yale University Press, 2011

Superficially, the selection of these particular biblical stories has no explicit relationship to the Haggadah text that follows, other than in the most general – the stories of Genesis lead up to the Exodus. Epstein therefore insists that more substantive significance will be revealed if we see the illuminations in the light of two medieval exegetical models. “The narrative sequence of the biblical text is expressed via the conventional progression of scenes, corresponding to pshat, contextual exegesis, in medieval biblical commentary. But the moral, theological, and political themes that were important to the authorship and that they wanted to stress are found in the chiasmic [diagonal across the page or pages] readings, corresponding to drash, homiletic exegesis.” What is especially fascinating is that Epstein is linking different sequences of seeing to specific conceptual exegetical models. To complicate matters, these links may be positive echoes or negative contrasts of meaning. This may very well be a totally unique procedure in the analysis of visual art.

Golden Haggadah, fol.5rv, (ca.1320-1330) illuminated manuscript, London, British Library. Courtesy “The Medieval Haggadah” by Marc Michael Epstein. Yale University Press, 2011

Epstein organizes the 56 illuminations on three levels: first the group of 4 found on one page, secondly the group of 8 seen on two facing pages and finally patterns he discerns throughout all the illuminations. In what he identifies as the Bifolium 2 (two pages facing one another), the narrative literally proceeds from upper right to upper left, then back down to lower right and finally to lower left, exactly as Hebrew is read. The subjects chronologically unfold as: Destruction of Sodom, Akeida, Jacob Steals Esav’s Blessing, and Jacob’s Ladder. On the facing page we see Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, Joseph’s Dream, Joseph Sent to his Brothers and Joseph Encounters the Angel in the same zigzag pattern.

Epstein immediately observes the connection between the diagonal of Jacob’s Ladder that continues up through the ruins of Sodom. This chiasmic (diagonal) link contrasts the destruction of the evil city of Sodom with the eventual construction of the holy city of Jerusalem at the site of Jacob’s ladder. In a divergent manner the Akeidah operates as a typology (ma’aseh avot siman l’banim – the events of forefathers foretell the events of later generations) to Jacob’s stolen blessing, each confirming the Divine choice of which son was to carry forward the history of the Jewish people. Suddenly a simple Biblical progression of Lot, Abraham, Isaac to Jacob develops into a nuanced complex commentary about retribution, holiness and inherited divine mission.

Further nuances emerge as Epstein observes that in this page delineating the early Israelite family tree, the right side of each image is dominated by “negative” figures. Lot hastens off with his daughters who will produce Amon and Moab; Ishmael, forefather of the Arab peoples, stands next to the donkey at the Akeida, Esav, forefather of Rome (i.e. Christianity) rushes in on the right and finally at Jacob’s Ladder we see on the right the angel of Esav preparing to attack the sleeping Jacob.

The repetitive flow of angels across the two facing pages yields more insights into the unfolding narrative. On the left-hand page Jacob Wrestling with the Angel is diagonally mirrored by the (non-textual) angel Gabriel guiding Joseph; compositionally 2 figures on the right are placed in contrast to a group of 6 figures on the left. This again echoes ma’aseh avot siman l’banim to show that just as Jacob encountered an angel at a crucial juncture, so too his son Joseph’s fateful encounter with his brothers was precipitated by the direction of an angel.

Pesach Video: Baking Passover Matzah in Israel’s Heartland

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Yishai Fleisher takes us to Beit El in Israel’s heartland, the location of Yaakov’s (Jacob’s) ladder, to bake matzot (unleavened bread) the old fashioned way by hand.  A crew of friends and neighbors carefully follow the detailed processes laid out in Jewish Law (Torah) for preparing and baking the matzah in less than 18 minutes total from start to finish.

Yori’s News Picks from All Over, Tue. 2/28/12

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

So, what have the children of Jacob and the people who hate them been up to over the past 24 hours? What can I say, it’s a violent planet. But even in a violent blue-green ball like ours, some stories still get our goat. Like this one:


The NY Post reports on a $10.5 million federal suit that says staffers at Eagle Avenue Middle School in West Hempstead stood by as schoolmates abused Gedaliah Hoffman, calling him a “f–king Jew” for wearing a yarmulke.

Staffers caused “the bullying to become escalated by punishing only Gedaliah, although Gedaliah was the victim of the attacks,” says the lawsuit, filed last week by the boy and his mother, Lori Hoffman.

Oh, we want t see that one through. And give ’em hell, Gedaliah Hoffman!

OK, we can’t do just nasty stuff, where’s the ray of hope thing? Well, there it is, in Borough Park!


Like this group of Brooklyn Jewish women who are starting their own ladies-only ambulance service.The NY Daily News reports that Borough Park lawyer Rachel Freier, 46, held the first recruitment drive Sunday for Ezras Nashim — Hebrew for “assisting women’ (but also a great pun on the Hebrew name for the ladies section in shul) — in her dining room. The News says Hatzolah leaders shot down Freier’s request last fall to let women into its 1,300 all-male corps, the city’s largest volunteer ambulance crew, which answers more than 50,000 calls a year.

Ezras Nashim member Hadassah Strauss, 26, retorts: “Women have been delivering babies for thousands of years.” Sharp lady. I strongly advise against getting into an argument with her…


And what religious Jewish person’s heart won’t be gladdened by this NY Times headline: In Texas, the Sabbath Trumps the Semifinals. Well, good for the Sabbath! And good for the Robert M. Beren Academy, an Orthodox Jewish day school in Houston, which won its regional championship to advance to the boys basketball state semifinals last weekend in Dallas. But the team will not make the trip. Because the Beren Academy players observe the Sabbath and do not play from sundown on Fridays to sundown on Saturdays. Their semifinal game was scheduled for 9 p.m. Friday.

Hey, I say, wasn’t any super meikel rabbi out there to give the lads an opening? A halachic three-point throw? Nobody?

According to the Times, several of Beren Academy’s opponents this season agreed to change the time of their games to avoid conflicts with the Sabbath. See? All a Jew needs to make it in America is a few nice goyim…


Dozens of students gathered in the Hughes-Trigg commons to hear from religious leaders of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, and balance and moderation was the main topic of the Islamic Awareness Week’s interfaith discussion panel Monday night – reports the Southern Methodist University Daily Campus.

So we scroll two-three paragraphs down and we get what we just knew had to be in there somewhere, the Jewish guy condemning intolerant Jews. Because, let’s face it. while hoards of Muslim tolerant folks have been storming the public squares of the Third World, with tolerant soldiers and police shooting tolerantly – and with moderation! – into the crowds, them extremists Jews really drowned out that peacefulness with their extremist going on living in their homes.

“Each religious leader discussed how the essential truths of their religions stress the importance of balance and moderation. However, they all spoke of extremists within their religions whose actions go against the core values of their faiths.”

Now, wait for it… wait for it… and – who’s the first panelist to take a crack at the condemn-thine-own-extremist challenge?

“Balance and moderation is a challenge,” Rabbi David Gruber said, describing extremist behavior he witnessed by some Jewish people in Israel.

First one, and ONLY one, folks. Honor murders, decapitations, mass killings, suicide bombing – not event a footnote. Horrible Israelis? Oh yeah, baby, we know all about them.

Even the Christian guy got away with it without mentioning firebombing abortion clinics and murdering abortion doctors, f’rinstance. So now we’re clear: The leasson from Islamic Interfaith Awareness Week at SMU is – we must do something about the Jews.

Good to know.


And speaking of goyim, nice or otherwise, Salt Lake City’s Deseret News reports that LDS Church has been added to Hungarian government’s recognition list, along with five Buddhist groups, Methodists, J Witnesses and two Islamic communities. Well, welcome to the club, guys, and remember: keep the weird stuff to a minimum…


This would have been funny enough for a dream scene from a Woody Allen movie (the earlier, funny ones): FOX40 News reports that Neo-Nazis and Occupy Groups clashed at Capitol Monday, man what a story. Except two officers were hurt in the clash, and made the story distinctly unfunny.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/jewish-news/yoris-news-picks-from-all-over-tue-22812/2012/02/28/

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